Dirty Hands

March 5, 2008 at 9:37 am 2 comments

     When we finally brought C home from the NICU, our doctor told us we had to keep him cold free for his first year, which translated to my quitting my job and staying home. For that year, my entire social life revolved around nurses and therapists coming to visit C at our home. Once we got the all-clear, however, we started to venture out in the world. At about 2 years old, we decided to try him in play school one day a week for some socialization. After a long visit, numerous conversations with the staff, the big day finally arrived. I brought him to the school, and he happily toddled into the room. He had no words yet, and had only started walking a few months before. I left, anxiety and eagerness fighting for control as I triple checked my cell phone to make sure it was on.

     I knew I had to come back and feed him lunch because of his feeding issues, so I went back early to observe. What I saw has remained one of my most painful memories. As I walked in the building, I heard the usual noise that one would expect coupled with something far more disturbing; the sounds of my own child’s cries, which any mother can pick out of thousands of such cries from a crowd of other children. As I approached, I saw him standing in the middle of the room, hands held up, fingers spread, tears streaming down his face. He was nearly hysterical in his sobs and as he stood there all by himself like he was all alone in the world. It was instantly obvious to me what was wrong – his hands were dirty. He hated having anything on his hands, and his frustration was obvious because he could neither communicate it verbally nor could he figure out how to fix the problem himself. “Boy, he sure is a screamer!” one teacher commented. I fought the urge to snap back at her that perhaps he wouldn’t be screaming if anyone had been engaged enough to figure out what he was screaming about.

     After getting him cleaned up, we proceeded to lunch, at which all the children happily ate their mini-tacos. I sat on a little chair at a little table, surrounded by little people eating big people food. I fed C his baby food and started crying. I couldn’t stop crying, and was soon fighting back heaving sobs as I tried to decide what to do. The young teachers tried not to stare at me in their complete and utter discomfort. There’s no manual for this; I felt completely lost and alone in the world – much like he had been when I saw him earlier. It was the first of many such choices I’ve had to make for him in is life; ultimately I took him out of a bad situation, one in which he probably could have learned something had I left him in the midst of it, but one where the lessons would’ve perhaps been at too great a cost.

Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Freud, anyone? Tennis, anyone?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. FXSmom  |  March 5, 2008 at 10:53 am

    I would have snapped at the teacher that he wouldn’t be screaming if they would clean him up properly. Ewww that irritates me! I know they aren’t miracle workers but working with these kids they should be brainstorming right away what could possibly be causing the meltdown. With his hands held high they should have started there. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess.

    I know – it seemed SO obvious to me what was wrong, and one teacher admitted to me they’d been trying to figure it out for some time. Grrrr. The teacher that made the comment to me was apparently later reprimanded, which I felt bad about – not really her fault, but the lack of training. But yes, it was terribly annoying and sad. Suffice it to say we never went back!

  • 2. awalkabout  |  March 5, 2008 at 11:12 am

    That is such a helpless feeling…you go to school to talk about the kid and you start to cry. I hate it. But how can you not? I mean, it’s a lot less than it was back when the Dx first hit, you know? But whether they’re telling you good things or bad things… your eyes just well up. And they give you that look somewhere between no wonder your kid’s a mess and pity pity pity. *sigh*

    I know – I cry when I’m angry and frustrated and it drives me nuts. I’ve done it my whole life. But then again, I cry at Hallmark commercials, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised….but you forgot the “are you just a crazy mommy?” look. I get that one a lot – especially when I’m trying to explain food allergies and celiac disease.


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